Better Off? Distributional Comparisons for Ordinal Data About Personal Well-Being

47 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2019

See all articles by Stephen P. Jenkins

Stephen P. Jenkins

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Social Policy and Administration; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); University of Essex - Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER)

Abstract

How to undertake distributional comparisons when personal well-being is measured using income is well-established. But what if personal well-being is measured using subjective well-being indicators such as life satisfaction or self-assessed health status? Has average well-being increased or well-being inequality decreased? How does the distribution of well-being in New Zealand compare with that in Australia, or between young and old people in New Zealand? This paper addresses questions such as these, stimulated by the increasing weight put on subjective well-being measures by international agencies such as the OECD and national governments including New Zealand's. The paper reviews the methods appropriate for distributional comparisons in the ordinal data context, comparing them with those routinely used for comparisons of income distributions. The methods are illustrated using data from the World Values Survey.

Keywords: inequality, ordinal data, subjective well-being, life satisfaction, World Values Survey

JEL Classification: D31, D63, I31

Suggested Citation

Jenkins, Stephen P., Better Off? Distributional Comparisons for Ordinal Data About Personal Well-Being. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12810, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3503760

Stephen P. Jenkins (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Social Policy and Administration ( email )

Houghton Street
London, England WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

University of Essex - Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom
+44 120 687 3374 (Phone)
+44 120 687 3151 (Fax)

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